I hope you’re all still tracking along ok in this new COVID19 world. It’s sure a huge adjustment for all.
If your household is anything like ours, there’s been a whole lot of imaginary play going on – imaginary camping, a makeshift movie theatre at home, imaginary vacations and lots of imaginary cooking!
With the weather also cooling down, I thought I’d share a recipe that ties in well with the imaginary camping and movies, and doubles up as a perfect meal for a cosy day at home. This recipe also uses our produce of the week (the humble tomato) and freezes well so DO make a large pot of it!
I personally love the version that @cookieandkate whips up (adapted below), which will easily feed your whole family. My kids, on the other hand, prefer the simplified version offered by @annabelkarmel, which I have also summarized below. The kids can easily help you make both, but the latter is bound to be better for their potentially short attention spans.
Cozy & Comforting Minestrone Soup (makes 6-8 bowls)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 medium ribs celery, chopped
¼ cup tomato paste
2 cups chopped seasonal vegetables (potatoes, zucchini, pumpkin, green beans all work, for example)
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried mixed Italian herbs
2 cans diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 bay leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup whole grain orecchiette, elbow or small shell pasta
1 can Great Northern beans or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups baby spinach, chopped kale or chopped collard greens
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnishing (optional)
Warm a few tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, tomato paste and a pinch of salt. Stir often, until the vegetables have softened.
Add the seasonal vegetables, garlic, and dried Italian herbs. Cook until fragrant while stirring frequently.
Pour in the diced tomatoes, broth and water and add the salt and bay leaves. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper.
Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover.
Cook for 15 minutes, then remove the lid and add the pasta, beans and greens.
Continue simmering, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the pasta is cooked al dente and the greens are tender.
Remove the pot from the heat, then remove the bay leaves.
Stir in the lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
Taste and season with more salt as needed. Garnish bowls of soup with grated Parmesan, if you’d like.
Here is a simpler kids version:
½ small onion
½ leek, white part only, washed and finely chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced finely
½ celery stalk, diced finely
100 g green beans, cut into 1cm lengths
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 tbsp tomato puree
1.2 litres chicken or vegetable stock
50g very small pasta shapes
Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and leek for 2 minutes, then add the carrot, celery, beans and potato and sauté for 4 minutes.
Stir in the tomato purée and cook for 1 minute.
Pour over the chicken or vegetable stock and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
Add the pasta and cook for approx 5 minutes (make sure to check the packet instructions for the cooking time of the pasta)